The New York Yankees did not live up to expectations this year. For a team with World Series aspirations, getting bounced early from the playoffs once again is a huge disappointment. To say the least, the Yankees 2020 season had its ups and downs. After starting 16-6, the Yankees then went 5-15, 10-0, and stumbled to 2-6, finishing with a 33-27 record and second place in the AL East.
After defeating the Cleveland Indians in the opening round of the playoffs, the Yankees were defeated in the ALDS by their division rival, and eventual AL Champs, the Tampa Bay Rays. Now, serious questions loom in an offseason that will be affected by a shortened season. Here is a look back at the New York Yankees 2020 season and some of the specific questions that will have to be answered.
Once again, the Yankees infielder had an MVP-caliber season. Not only did his .364 average lead MLB, but he also became the first player of the modern era to win a batting title in both leagues. DJ LeMahieu is now a free agent, and he should be priority number one for the New York Yankees. His steady bat and defense will make him a hot commodity on the free agent market.
Luke Voit is the AL home run champion with 22 dingers. Not only that, his .277 BA and 52 RBI give him a case for AL MVP consideration. His feisty demeanor and hard-nosed play make him a fan favorite. In fact, he has already vowed revenge against the Rays.
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) October 16, 2020
Voit is arbitration eligible this season, and he will see a nice pay raise from the Yankees.
Gerrit Cole proved to be worth every penny of his record 9-year, $324 million contract. In 12 starts, Cole was 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 94 strikeouts. In the postseason, Cole was 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA , 30 strikeouts and a 0.927 WHIP. Without a doubt, he is the ace of the Yankees’ staff and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Moving forward, the Yankees must find Cole help in the rotation. The rest of the Yankees regular starters combined for a record of 11-11 with a 4.75 ERA, which leads to…
New York Yankees 2020 Starting Rotation
As noted, other than Cole, the Yankees starting rotation was a mixed bag. Rookie Deivi Garcia was one bright spot as he posted a 3-2 record with 33 strikeouts in 34.1 innings pitched. However, his ERA was 4.98 and, for right or wrong, only pitched one inning in the playoffs. As for the rest of the staff, James Paxton was limited to only five starts after a left forearm flexor strain forced him to miss the majority of the season.
Also, veteran left J.A. Happ stumbled out of the gate. In his first three starts, he pitched only 12 2/3 innings while giving up nine runs, four home runs, and only striking out five. Despite the rocky start, Happ came on late, pitching 36 2/3 innings in his last six starts while giving up only ten runs and striking out 36. However, in only 2 2/3 playoff innings pitched, he gave up four earned runs, walked three and posted a 13.50 ERA.
Both Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery were serviceable, but Montgomery won only two regular season games with a 5.11 ERA in ten starts. Tanaka, on the other hand, managed to win just three regular season games in his ten starts. The playoffs were even more unkind to Tanaka as he pitched only eight total innings in his two playoff appearances and owned a 12.38 ERA.
Tanaka, Happ and Paxton will be all free agents. It is not out of the question that the Yankees will all three pitchers walk. If that is the case, there will be no clear number two starter heading in to next season as both Luis Severino and Domingo German missed all of 2020, Severino due to Tommy John surgery and German for a domestic violence incident.
Once again, the Yankees 2020 season was beset with major injuries.
– Aaron Judge: IL (calf)
– Giancarlo Stanton: IL (hamstring)
– DJ LeMahieu: IL (thumb)
– Zack Britton: IL (hamstring)
– Tommy Kahnle: IL (Tommy John)
– Gleyber Torres: left game (hamstring)
– James Paxton: MRI (elbow)
They have the depth to weather this, but ouch.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 20, 2020
In 2019 the Yankees set a record, sending 30 players to the injured list, accumulating 2,320 days. 2020 wasn’t much better. Due to a hamstring injury, slugger Giancarlo Stanton was limited to only 23 games this season batting .250 with four home runs and 11 RBI. Also, outfielder Aaron Judge was limited to just 28 games with a strained calf. This is a recurring theme with the New York Yankees as they are constantly battling the injury bug. If they hope to maintain any level of success, they must keep their best players on the field. In this shortened season, the injuries were a hurdle that possibly prevented the Yankees from winning the AL East.
There is no bigger polarizing figure on the New York Yankees than catcher Gary Sanchez. In 49 games, Sanchez hit a paltry .147 with only 23 hits, 24 RBI and 64 strikeouts. His ten home runs are not enough to justify keeping him in a lineup where he fails to produce, and it’s not just his hitting that is regressing. His performance behind the plate is, as well.
With Sanchez catching, Gerrit Cole was 4-2 with a 3.91 ERA. With Kyle Higashioka, Cole was 3-1 with a 1.00 ERA. Yankees manager Aaron Boone benched Sanchez in the playoffs in favor of Higashioka due to the fact that Cole is a better pitcher without Sanchez. Many in the Yankees fanbase are hoping the Yankees can trade Sanchez as they are tired of watching him regress year after year. What to do with Gary Sanchez will be one of the biggest offseason questions for the Yankees.
The 2021 team could look very different from the Yankees 2020 version. With LeMahieu, Tanaka, Happ, Paxton, and Brett Gardner, who has a club option, all free agents, many roster moves could be made.
The rotation is an even bigger question as there could be one and perhaps two brand new starters. Severino is set to return, but the Yankees may not bring Domingo German back. If that is the case, the Yankees might have to spend in the free agent market. Unfortunately, they, like every team in this COVID-shortened season, are facing major financial losses. Brian Cashman must decide how much to spend and on whom and, as already stated, he has his own key players to re-sign.
What ever the offseason outcome, Yankees fans should be confident as there is a solid core with plenty of exciting players. Hopefully, all fans will be treated to an exciting, full 2021 season.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images